As I mentioned last week, my ZTE Axon 7 has just received Android 7.0 Nougat, which also unlocked Google Daydream VR. I wasn’t able to pick up Google’s VR headset at the time, but now I can, so I did, and I spent a couple of hours messing around with it.
First, I have to say I am very glad that Google made one headset (and controller) that works with all Daydream-compatible phones. That wasn’t entirely clear when I ordered my Axon 7 last summer, and I feared it would lead to a lot of waiting for my OEM to release a specific headset that may or may not be as good as any another vendor’s, especially sight unseen. I don’t really know how they properly align the screens, across all possible phones and accounting for user-error, but it seems to accept my phone perfectly without really any fiddling. Maybe it’s a simpler problem than I am envisioning, but, either way, the one viewer works with my ZTE Axon 7 -- it’s not just for the Pixel.
My second point is that the phone gets very hot, very quick. I’m sure ZTE knows about this, and the phone is designed around it, but it doesn’t just get warm, it borders on hot-to-the-touch at times. To be safe, I’m removing the case each time I insert it into the Daydream View, although the device seems to work either way. The battery does drain quickly, relative to other workloads, but a single, hour-or-so VR sitting took about 25% off (~75% remaining). Despite the heat and the quick battery drain, you will probably be done with a VR sitting before the device is, so I consider those aspects to be all-around positive.
As for the YouTube app, I’m glad that the virtual screen for standard video can be adjusted in pretty much any way. You can make it bigger or smaller with the track pad, pull it in any direction with motion controls, and adjust whether it’s flat or curved (so all points are equidistant) in the settings. If you want to lay on your back in bed and watch movies “on the ceiling”, then you can... and without holding the phone over your face while your arms go numb.
Yes, I’m speaking from experience.
As for games? Eh... about the only thing that caught my eye is maybe “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes”. I’m pleasantly surprised it’s there, but it’s about the only thing that is. I knew there wasn’t a whole lot of apps, and that’s fine for me, but you probably shouldn’t get too excited outside of video.
Also, it’d be nice to see Google Chrome in VR. Get on that, Google! A virtual void would make a good place to keep my many, many tabs. It will apparently support WebVR content very soon, but in a “browse, click the Daydream button, mount it in the View, and put it on your head, then undo all that when you’re done” sort of way. It’d be nice to just... stay in the headset to browse.
Anywho, I have it, and those are my thoughts. It’s early, but it seems to work pretty well. I haven’t tried an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive yet, though, so I can’t make any comparisons there.
Subject: Mobile | February 9, 2017 - 12:26 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: zte, axon 7, google, nougat, Android, android 7.0
Well that was quick. About two weeks ago, we reported on ZTE Mobile Deutschland’s Facebook post that said Android 7.0 would miss January, but arrive some time in Q1. For North America, that apparently means the second week of February, because my device was just notified, about an hour ago, that A2017UV1.1.0B15 was available for over-the-air update. It just finished installing.
In my case, I needed to hold the on button a few times to get the phone to boot into the second stage of installation, but ZTE mentions it in the pre-install notes, so that’s good. Then, when the phone moved on to the new lock screen, my fingerprint reader didn’t work until after I typed in the lock screen password. I’m not sure why the phone didn’t accept the fingerprint reader until after I successfully logged in, especially since it used the fingerprints on file from Android 6.0, I didn’t need to set it up again, but it’s a small inconvenience. Just don’t perform the update if you can’t access your password manager and you don’t remember the unlock code off the top of your head.
While I don’t have a Daydream VR headset, I’ll probably pick one up soon and give it a test. The Daydream app is installed on the device, though, so you can finally enjoy Android-based VR content if you pick one up.
If your phone hasn’t alerted you yet, find your unlock password and check for updates in the settings app.
The German offices of ZTE Mobile have announced (via their Facebook page) that the Android 7.0 update will be coming later in this quarter, which would be before the end of March. In November, this branch announced that the update would be coming in January. This update is supposed to bring Daydream to the handset, as this was one of the big promises that ZTE made about the device before it launched. They are not confident with it in its current state, though.
Our readers were asking about my opinion of the device, since I published a “Just Delivered” post about it four months ago. I said that I would wait until the Nougat release, which I was, at the time, expecting in October or November, because I had a feeling that ZTE envisioned the phone with that OS version. Since then, bugs have come and gone, most of which were relatively benign, like messing up whitespace in the lock screen’s current date. Personally, I started getting a bug where my camera would occasionally fail to focus, instead humming and blurring like it’s focusing in and out tens or hundreds of times per second until you close the app using the camera. (It started happening, off and on, just after the last service update, although it could just be a coincidental hardware issue with my unit. I’m waiting until I see it in Nougat to call customer support.)
Either way, it’s probably a good thing that ZTE is taking their time with this one. I’m guessing this update is when those who adopted the Axon 7 will begin to solidify judgments about the company as a higher-end phone vendor going forward.
Subject: Mobile | September 20, 2016 - 07:40 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: zte, axon 7, just delivered
You can, for all intents and purposes, say that I haven't really had a smartphone until now. The only one that came close was my LG Optimus One, which ran Android 2.2 and had a few dozen megabytes of usable, internal storage. That said, I got it for about a hundred bucks around five years ago. I wanted a portable computer based on a modern Android OS for quite some time, but could never justify the cost give how little it would be used outside of WiFi.
This year changed that quite a bit. With ZTE, OnePlus, ASUS, and other companies fighting for the mid-range space, it seemed like now would be a good time to buy, and the ZTE Axon 7 ended up being my choice. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, which is all over the place it seems, supports OpenGL ES 3.2 and Vulkan, although the depends on the handset vendor to ship the compatible drivers. Since it's likely that ZTE will ship those APIs, especially when Android N is pushed to it, I was able to justify the extra cost with software development. It also has a beautiful, AMOLED display and surprisingly good sound, especially for voice-centric bands like The Tragically Hip.
One thing that confused me was Newegg's pre-order bonus. For purchasing the device, already about half the price of comparable phones, they throw in a pair of Monster over-ear headphones for free. Yes, nothing is truly for free, and Monster products typically don't cost anywhere near their retail price, which claims to be $200 CDN, but the phone, itself, already seemed like it was pocket change over cost. Makes you wonder how much ZTE is selling it to Newegg for, and whether it's sustainable.
Anywho, I have now joined the modern mobile world.
Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2013 - 08:37 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zte open, zte, smartphone, msm7225a, mozilla, Firefox OS
Mozilla has been working on its mobile Firefox OS for about a year, and smartphones running the OS are starting to become available stateside. The first bit of hardware running Firefox OS is the ZTE Open, which launched last week for $79.99 exclusively on eBay. Unfortunately, the limited stock ZTE made available is already gone, and there is no word on when more smartphones will be available. (However, in typical eBay fashion, users are turning around and selling the $80 phone for $170 if you really want to get your hands on it...)
According to the eBay listing, ZTE managed to sell 985 of the orange ZTE Open smartphones.
The ZTE Open comes in blue or orange and features low end specifications. Fortunately, Firefox OS and its HTML5 applications do not demand much hardware. On the outside, the ZTE Open has a 3.5” TFT touchscreen with a resolution of 480 x 320, a single home button sitting below the display, and a 3.15 MP rear camera. Internal specifications include a MSM7225A SoC with an ARM Cortex-A5 CPU clocked at 1Ghz and Adreno 200 GPU along with 2GB of internal storage expandable by micro SD card. Other specifications include 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, 3G cellular radio, a 1200 mAH battery, and various sensors (accelerometer, ambient light, and GPS). The Firefox OS smartphone measures 114 x 62 x 12.5mm.
Seeing the ZTE Open sell out of its limited stock in such a short amount of time suggests that there is some positive amount of demand for Firefox OS from enthusiasts, but the smartphone and OS platform still has a long road ahead of it before it becomes a true threat to Android and iOS. Much like the fabled Ubuntu Phone, more than enthusiast demand will be needed, along with support from US carriers and app developers. With that said, it is a good first step into the US market and I hope ZTE makes more phones available soon.
Read more about Mozilla's Firefox OS.
Subject: Mobile | July 16, 2013 - 08:40 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zte, tegra 4, td-scdma, smartphone, nvidia, china mobile
Details have leaked on a new ZTE smartphone called the Geek U988S thanks to China's TENNA certification database. The Geek is powered by NVIDIA’s latest-generation Tegra 4 SoC and is headed for Chinese wireless carrier China Mobile and its TD-SCDMA network.
Along with leaked specifications, the TENNA site has photos of its upcoming smartphone. The pictured model has a pink colored chassis with a large 5-inch touchscreen LCD with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. A 2MP webcam sits above the display and the rear of the phone hosts an 8MP camera. The device measures 144 x 71 x 9mm.
Internal hardware includes a Tegra 4 SoC clocked at 1.8GHz and 2GB of RAM. The phone works on China’s TD-SCDMA network.
There is no word on pricing or availability, but photos and a specs list can be found here.
Subject: Mobile | April 10, 2013 - 12:46 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zte, geek, Android, android 4.2, clover trail, Intel, idf, atom z2580
The ZTE Geek is not quite ready for release, but the internals are now official. Specifications include a dual core Intel Atom Z2580 processor clocked at 2GHz (HyperThreading allows 4 total threads), an integrated SGX 544MP2 GPU clocked at 533MHz, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. A 2300 mAh battery provides power for the device and can be recharged wirelessly in the ZTE Geek.
Engadget goes hands-on with the ZTE Geek at IDF in Beijing, China.
On the outside, The ZTE Geek features a 5" capacitive multi-touch screen with a resolution of 1280x720 and Gorilla Glass protection. There is a 1MP fixed focus webcam above the display, and an 8MP camera with auto-focus and LED flash on the rear of the device.
The Geek smartphone is compatible with the following wireless connections:
- GSM: 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
- UMTS: 900 / 2100 MHz
WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n at 2.4GHz
- DLNA, Wireles hotspot, Wi-Fi Direct, and Wi-Fi Display
- Bluetooth 3.0 LE
- GPS (AGPS)
It also offers up an accelerometer, proximity, ambient light, compass, and gyro sensors. Engadget reports that the device on display at IDF is merely a prototype, and the glossy white finish and chassis material is subject to change. Naturally, there is no word yet on pricing, or when it will be released. The smartphone will likely not see an initial US release, however (if past Atom-powered phones are any indication).
What do you think about the ZTE Geek's design and specs? Personally, I'm still pining for the Lenovo K900 (another Clover Trail+ powered smartphone) to see a US release heh.
Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2013 - 09:23 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zte, smartphone, mozilla, html5, Firefox OS, ces 2013, CES
Mozilla has been interested in smartphones for awhile now. The Boot2Gecko project has since transitioned to Firefox OS, and now the company is nearly ready to officially release the code and begin getting it onto smartphones and competing with the current giants of Android, iOS, and WP8. According to The Verge, who talked with the company at CES, Mozilla’s mobile operating system will be released within the next two weeks.
The Verge checks out a prototype phone running Firefox OS.
The mobile OS is coded in HTML5 and uses HTML5 applications. While Mozilla plans to introduce an app store to curate things, currently users are able to find run web apps on the Internet. Do not expect Firefox OS to take the smartphone world by storm this year, however. Mozilla will reportedly restrict the mobile OS to low end hardware, with up to 800MHz single core ARM processors. Further, no OEM phones are scheduled for a US release this year (so far). ZTE has confirmed that it is pursuing handsets with Firefox OS pre-installed. Currently, the company is planning at least one low end smartphone release in Europe late this year. US residents will likely not see Firefox OS shipping with phones until next year at the earliest, depending on how well the phones do in the developing markets and when Mozilla opens up the hardware restrictions to higher-end devices.
Until then, you can check out Firefox OS for yourself in a simulator using the Firefox web browser and a browser add-on called the Firefox OS Simulator. To test it out, open up a Firefox browser window and install the add-on from this webpage. Then click the Firefox button and navigate to Web Developer > Firefox OS Simulator. Then, on the left hand side of the window that opens, click the stopped button to start the simulator. A new window will open running the mobile operating system.
The Dialer, Messages, and Web Browser apps in Firefox OS.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Networking | March 16, 2012 - 09:58 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zte, wdm, networking, fiber optics, 1.7tbps
Chinese telecommunications provider ZTE showed off a new fiber optic network capable of 1.7 Tbps over a single fiber cable. Computer World reports that the ZTE network trial utilizes Wavelength Division Multiplexing technology to pack more information through a single cable by employing multiple wavelengths that comprise different channels.
The ZTE fiber network runs 1,750 kilometers (just over 1,087 miles) and uses eight channels- each capable of 216.4 Gbps- to send data at speeds up to 1.7312 Tbps. The company has no immediate plans to implement such a network. Rather, they wanted to prove that an upgrade to 200 Gbps per channel speeds is possible. To put their achievement in perspective, Comcast currently has fiber networks running at 10 Gbps, 40 Gbps, and 100 Gbps channel speeds, according to an article on Viodi.
And to think that I only recently upgraded to a Gigabit router! I can't wait to see this technology trickle down towards a time when home networks are running through fiber optic cables and doing so at terabit per second speeds!
Image courtesy kainet via Flickr Creative Commons.